History On The Rocks

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St Catherine’s Tor

Before I scuttle off back to the C15th (where things are hotting up), here are a number of photos I took yesterday of one of my favourite places in the world. The steep-sided hill is all that remains of St Catherine’s Tor, where a small chapel is thought to have once stood before the sea claimed it.

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August storm, 2010

Probably linked to nearby Hartland Abbey, the chapel might also have been used to warn sailors of the proximity of the hull-ripping rocks along this part of the North Devon coast, where many ships have foundered. Utterly terrifying beauty.

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St Catherine’s Tor

In the valley bellow St Catherine’s Tor (‘tor’ is a word commonly used in the South-West of England to mean a rocky hill or peak) is a twenty-foot thick wall crossing from side to side. The area is dry now, but was once  a marshy area fed by the Speke river or its tributary, and dammed to make a swannery.

The whole area around Hartland has an ‘other world’ feel to it. It might look abandoned and desolate now, but its sense of history still lingers in the remains of the swannery and the tumbled stones of the old harbour.